Classrooms 360°

Hampshire College is a real-world experience. This may not seem like a huge revelation, but it puts us at odds with the current trends in higher education and life in general. If we plan to stay rooted on earth and not go into the cloud like everything else, we need to make sure our corner of the physical universe is as nice as it can be.

4 Walls + 4 Elements + 5 Senses = 1 Classroom
The physical spaces in which a large part of the Hampshire experience happens are the classrooms. They sit at the nexus of our educational program, and are where teachers and students connect. The job of a classroom is to support and facilitate these connections and interactions. What kind of classroom does this best? And are ours up to the task?
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Google Search Extras

Google has some nice special features built into it’s Search Bar. Here are a few to get you started, and pointers to more.

Weather for many worldwide locations
Type “weather” followed by the city and state, city and country, or zip code. For example, “weather Florence, Italy”
Stock Quotes
Type the ticker symbol into the search box. For example, “AAPL”
Earthquake Informaiton
To see the most recent global earthquake, type “earthquake”.
Calculator
Type a calculation into the search bar to have Google solve it. For instance, “pi*6^2”
Unit Conversions
Type what you want converted and the units you want it converted into, for instance “5 km in miles” or “3 stone in pounds” or even “fortnight”.
Flight Tracking
Enter an airline and flight number to get its status. For example, “usairways 49”
Package Tracking
Enter a tracking number for UPS, Fedex, or USPS right in the search bar. For example, “1Z9999W99999999999”

There are more hidden gems in the Google search bar, you can see them all at http://www.google.com/help/features.html

Exercise Your Battery

Did you know that your computer battery needs a workout every now and then to stay in tip-top shape? Read on for details.

Laptop computers these days have lithium-ion batteries, which need a little bit of special attention every now and then–but hey, who among us doesn’t? No matter what you do, the battery will lose some of its charge capacity over time, but there are things you can do that will minimize the rate of loss. One of the most important is just to use it sometimes!

Here are some tips to keep yours in good condition:

  • Use that battery every once in a while Your battery will lose capacity if it doesn’t get exercised every now and then. We suggest that at least once a week or so you use your computer on battery power, bringing it down to 80% or lower.
  • Don’t run it into the ground every day Deep discharges are harder for the battery to recover from than shallow discharges, so try to keep it at 20% or higher most of the time. Running it down below 20% is fine on occasion, but constant stress will lessen battery life.
  • Don’t overheat your battery. Heat, along with time, is a lithium-ion battery’s enemy. Some exposure to heat is inevitable, since computers produce heat. Just don’t exacerbate the situation any more than necessary–don’t rest the computer on pillows, for instance, which may keep the computer from being able to cool itself, and don’t leave it in a hot car for long periods.
  • Follow any manufacturer’s instructions for battery care. Some computers come with instructions for calibrating the battery; if yours did, make sure to follow them.

Word or Excel File Locked for Editing?

We’ve had several calls recently about newmisserver files being “locked for editing”, although no one has them open at the time. Here’s what’s up and how you can fix it.

How Word and Excel Handle Files on the Server
If you open a Word or Excel file on the server it could potentially be in use by another person at the same time. There could be a problem with that, because if your colleague saves their changes and then you later change yours, you’ve just overwritten your colleague’s changes. That doesn’t make for good office relationships!

As a safeguard, Excel and Word create a temporary “ownership file” in the location of the document, giving it the name “~$” followed by the name of the document. For instance, if you were opening the file “myfile.doc” on newmisserver\public, an ownership file named “~$myfile.doc” would also be created on newmisserver\public. The file contains the name of the person editing the document. This file would be visible if you looked for it on newmisserver\public from a PC, but on a Mac it’s invisible.

When you close the document or quit the application, Word and Excel delete the ownership file. If you try to open a file that has an existing ownership file, you get a message that the file is locked for editing.

What Sometimes Goes Wrong
This is a good scheme, as long as the document is closed normally and Word or Excel gets the chance to delete that file. If, however, Word or Excel crash or the connection to the network is interrupted, the ownership file may not be deleted. Sometimes a network connection may be disrupted manually–if you pull the Ethernet cable out of the computer, say, without first closing the file and disconnecting from newmisserver; sometimes there may be a glitch in the network, causing a temporary disconnection at just the wrong moment. Whatever the cause, in these cases the ownership file is left behind, and no one is able to open the file for editing.

How to Fix It
If this happens to a file you’re trying to access, it’s easy to fix:
First, double check with your colleagues that they don’t actually have the file open.

If no one has the file open, on a PC (not a Mac), open up “My Computer” (Windows XP) or “Computer” (Windows 7).

Navigate to the newmisserver folder where the document is stored.

Find the errant ownership file, which starts with “~$” and has the name of your document. An easy way to do this is to use Details listing format and order the files by Name–it will pop to the top of the list.

Delete the file.

Now you should be able to open the file for editing without any problem.

Recap on the Spring Moodle Lunch

Here’s a recap of last week’s Moodle lunch for faculty.

John Slepian of IA kindly agreed to show us how he uses Moodle. He also teaches at Smith, so had used it for a few years there, even before Hampshire adopted it.

John spoke about using to organize the schedule for the semester- he outlines the topics and sections for the semester and then plugs in appropriate readings, media, etc.
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